Word to the Wives, A
- Publication date
- ca. 1955
- Public Domain
- Digitizing sponsor
- American Gas Association, National Association of Home Builders, and The Woman's Home Companion
A comical film where one housewife devises a plan for another to get a new kitchen. It is a happy age of shopping, but Jane's husband George doesn't understand the urgency in their need for a new house with a new kitchen. Much of the film is a voice-over by the housewife with the ideal kitchen -- who shows off her counters, clothes washer and dryer and invites Jane for a shopping spree, experiencing the "freedom to go shopping when the urge hits you" instead of being stuck in the kitchen. She devises a plot for Jane to leave George to take care of himself for two days and therefore win Jane a new house and kitchen.
The husband George goes through a sequence of kitchen adventures: Mixing and overcooking on the stove, manly lemon squeezing for lemonade, wrestling with an overcrowded refrigerator, garbage bag breaking as he struggles to take it out, yelling a tirade at the son for using the hot water while he was doing dishes, and struggling to open the kitchen cabinets which need to be tapped underneath with a hammer.
The other housewife invites them over for dinner and the husbands discuss the garbage incinerator and the hot water heater and sell George on the idea of a new house.
Good ideal kitchen shots
Shots of cars driving up to homes
Ends with George's narration about being tricked or not and encouraging the viewer to have "Happy Homebuilding!"
Ken Smith sez: Svelte, perfect-looking Jane Peters and her equally svelte, perfect-looking friend are sipping coffee in their Paris original housedresses in the unnamed friend's modern kitchen. "I'm so proud of it it's almost indecent!" Jane's friend proclaims, wiggling one of her perfectly-shaped nails. She suggests that Jane go shopping with her on a spur-of-the-moment "small spree" (to buy more stunning housedresses, no doubt), but Jane sadly refuses. "I haven't got a dream kitchen to make things easier," she sighs. "Mine's strictly the nightmare-type."
Jane's friend is shocked, arching her perfectly-shaped eyebrows, shaking her perfectly-coiffed hair, and turning the corners of her perfectly-shaped lips down into a pout. Why doesn't Jane's husband move her out of that "older house" of theirs and into a freshly-built new one?, she asks, one with a modern kitchen that offers "freedom from uneccesary drudgery to go shopping when the urge takes you"? He certainly should, they agree, and the two women concoct a "plot" to make it happen. Jane has to visit her sick mother in Cleveland; she'll be gone for a couple of days. "Don't get TOO far ahead in your housework," Jane's friend winks. "Oh, no!" Jane replies. "I COULDN'T...."
Now we cut to George Peters as he struggles in Jane's kitchen. George -- brilliantly played by Darren McGavin -- is a slack-jawed mouth-breather who prefers to communicate either through grunts and ughs or by yelling at the top of his voice. His Neanderthal nature is understandable; after all, George doesn't have the priviledge of working in a kitchen "designed for efficiency and convenience." After two days of battling an outdated stove and water heater, sticky cabinets and ice cube trays, and a garbage disposal system that isn't automatic, George not only buys Jane her new kitchen, but a whole new "dream house" to go with it! The film ends happily for all, and Darren encourages viewers to visit a representative of their local homebuilder's association. "Believe me," he chuckles, "a few minutes now can lead to a whole lifetime of happiness. Happy homebuilding!"
Features appliances and equipment from Republic Steel Kitchens, Caloric, Whirlpool, Ruud Manufacturing Company, and The Formica Company.
Promotes an all-gas kitchen and laundry. American Gas Association offered prints of this film for sale to gas utilities to help them coax builders to incorporate kitchens into their new homes.
Sexism Gender stereotypes Houses and homes Appliances Cooking Spouses Husbands Wives Couples Marriage
- Closed captioning
- United States
- ca. 1955
- Run time
Subject: Fun to watch
Subject: Missing Janet Riley
Subject: Hottest Housewife of the 50's!
Thank you, Mr. Prelinger, for adding this bit of ephemera to the world.
Subject: Interesting, if not stereotypical
You also have the stereotypical bumbling husband (played by Darren McGavin of 'A Christmas Story') who is clueless in the kitchen (like making rice is that complicated?)
It does have good historical value, as why I gave it 5 stars...
Subject: Anoter fine example of the 1950s mentality
A Woman's Home Companion presents A Word to the Wives
Starring Marsha Hunt, Darren McGavin, Janet Riley, and Scott McKay.
Produced by Telamerica, Inc.
Producer: Edmund M. Tate
Director: Norman Lloyd
Writer: Jerome Brondfield
Camera: William Steiner
The movie opens with an exterior shot of a 1950s home, with the following narration: "It wasn't really a plot against George Peters, but I'll admit, it might have looked that way the morning his wife Jane stopped by for coffee. We just been in our house two weeks and I was still ecstatic over everything. Especially my dream kitchen."
The two wives discuss their lives and kitchens. Jane cant go on a shopping spree to cheer herself up because she doesnt have a dream kitchen to make her life as easy as her friends. The two come up with plot to leave Janes husband George and son home for a couple of days while she watches a relative. This way, George will see just how badly she needs a new kitchen and home.
George is then left to his own devises, which is to say, not much. He boils his rice, fails to wash the dishes, and cant figure out why the cabinet refuses to open with his arm in front of it.
After two days, Jane returns to open arms and a mop. Later that evening the couple visit Janes friend for a dinner party and meet the person who built their dream home. George arranges a home of his own and the story ends happily every after.
"Well folks, I'll leave it up to you whether the gals tricked me or not. But that's another story. This new dream house is a happy ending to our story. Why don't you drop around and talk to the men who can make your dream of a new home, come true. The best and most reputable builders in your area are here to help you. They are standing by right now in the booth, sponsored by your local home builder's association to discuss plans and prices with you. Believe me, a few minutes now can lead to a whole lifetime of happiness. Happy home building."
The kitchen and laundry in this film were featured in The Woman's Home Companion.
Cabinets by Republic Steel Kitchens
Built-in automatic gas range and disposal by Caloric
Automatic washer and gas dryer by Whirlpool
Monel Duo-Temp automatic gas water heater by Ruud Mfg. Co.
Counter tops by The Formica Co.
Some memorable quotes:
"Whatever it is, Ive got just the cure for it! There's a sale at Watsons. A new hat would be an ideal tonic for you. I'm going down this afternoon for a small spree."
"Freedom from unnecessary drudgery. Freedom to go shopping when the urge hits you--or when there's a sale going on."
"Now why should you have to lay out everything all nice and ready for George and Jimmy, down to the last egg and can of salmon."
"Automatic flour dispenser. Very handy. Let me show you how it works."
Subject: Waaa waa waaaaaaaaa....
Subject: that's the guy from a christmas story
Anyways, this is really one that shows the stereotypical stupid-around-the-kitchen man.
Subject: Oh George!
Subject: Longing for the Fifties Dream House
Subject: "I'm so proud it's almost indecent of me"
Subject: suburbia circa 1955